Education in Panyebar has historically been very low. The average level of education among adult men is only three years of formal schooling, and among adult women is only two years. There is no high school in the village, and until 2002 there was no middle school, meaning that most children dropped out of school after sixth grade, perpetuating the cycle of poverty. Even so, there is a great desire and will among the residents of the village to overcome the economic challenges facing them.
In 2002 a group of village elders began asking for outside help to find a middle school in the village. A pastor in nearby San Pedro used some money he had been saving for his own home to buy some land. The school was constructed with funds from Proyecto Fe. At this point, Mayan Partners was formed and a group of core supporters began to make monthly contributions to support teacher salaries and the operation of the school. The school is named Celegio Bethel Panyebar, and enrolls an average of 60 middle-school children each year.
Students are from both Catholic and Evangelical families in the village, and the school is open to anyone, but it places a heavy emphasis on both academics and Christian faith formation among the students. The goal of Colegio Bethel Panyebar is to help foster the future generation of Christian leaders that ultimately can serve and take leadership roles in their community. In 2009, we began to support a new community library located in the central municipal building of the village, and in 2013 we began to support the Centro Infantil, a group of women caring for more than 50 preschoolers in the village. We continue to look for new ways to partner with leaders in the village to help them realize their dreams for an economically and spiritually empowered community.
From Kent and Ann Moriarty
Hermosillo is the first generation in his family to go to school. He's bright, thoughtful, and ambitious. His family weaves the brilliant skirts that women wear but the business is not profitable enough to send him to school past ninth grade. Talking with him and his family in Panyebar, Hermosillo shared with us his greatest ambition: to become a doctor. A doctor. His mom shrugged her shoulders and quietly stated their hopelessness. "How are we going to do that?" But after graduation, Hermosillo applied for a prized full government scholarship to a boarding high school only an hour away. And he got it. He was well prepared, a good deal because of this time studying at Colegio Bethel. Ten of Colegio Bethel's eleven graduates in October 2009 are now in high school, unheard of in this community even five years ago.